Closeness During Crisis

I am sure I am not the only one who has wondered how families will prevail through our current COVID-19 pandemic. I have looked deeply at my own situation, and asked some questions about our culture in general. Has being forced to pull back on activities created more time for family togetherness, or driven a wedge between family members? Will marriages improve while couples have no choice but to stay home together, or will we see a rise in divorce? Restaurants have been closed and more meals cooked at home. Has this increased family dinner time and togetherness, or is most everyone eating in separate rooms to get a break? After this very stressful and emotionally draining time of crisis, will our culture be renewed with some old fashioned values, or fall to pieces?

I don’t have all of those answers. However, I recently ran across a survey put out by https://huggable.com, and I found it encouraging. They surveyed 538 moms with children ages three years old and younger. The results are pretty interesting, and I think a positive outlook on a situation, which at times can be discouraging.

If you are a “naysayer,” assuming all of this time stuck under one roof with our young children will certainly cause mothers across America to be willing to pay double for daycare just to get their little darlins’ out of the house, think again.

The survey revealed that even though moms are seeing an increase of about 49% in time spent with their children since the shelter in place began, 63% of those moms say they feel closer to their children because of it. Some feel a dramatic increase, and others just a slight increase. Either way, that is a beautiful thing and some good news.

Mothers who work full time have of course seen the biggest increase in time with their children, and felt a more significant improvement in their relationship with their children. Specifically, moms who work full-time were used to about 6.4 hours a week with their children. Since COVID-19, loss of daycare, remote working, or sometimes job loss, that has increased on average to about 10.3 hours a week. That is a pretty good jump, and most moms are happy about it and seeing some nice changes at home.

I can sense some people rolling their eyes thinking, “Yeah right – my child is driving me nuts and I can’t wait to go back to work.” Totally understandable, and every family must do what works best for them. If momma isn’t happy, no one is happy. It is however, interesting to see the changes, and as I said before, find something positive out of a time of crisis.

Even moms who have always stayed home with the kids are benefiting from even more time together. There are a few possibilities as to why. A very significant one is no school and no more extra activities. With school, sports and outside distractions canceled, those minivans are staying in the garage. 56% of moms who were staying home before the crisis, say they feel their relationship with their children has improved and brought a new closeness. Moms say they have had to get more creative with the kids at home because there are no activities to go to. Kids are learning to do more chores, and even becoming better at dealing with conflict through all of this. This makes sense since mom, dad, or both are now available to help.

As moms, our hearts are warmed when we see our children enjoying each other’s company. Moms with multiple children reported they have been very pleased to see that this has been the case. Siblings are spending more time together, rather than being separated all day at school. Turns out, it’s going really well! What a nice thought to think of the special memories some of these children might have as they look back at this time they were “stuck” at home.

And hey…let’s not forget about dad! The survey focused mainly on moms, but dad’s role has changed too. Moms surveyed said dads have been able to be more involved with the kids in areas like meal time, feedings, and yay!..diaper changes! This increase in cooperation between partners has all in all brought about improvements in marriages, according to the survey, and that is nothing to take lightly.

There’s no getting around it, when kids are home, rather than at daycare, there are some developmental gains. This doesn’t mean a child in daycare will assumably fall behind. It just means parents can’t help but see some improvements in development when they are able to give their child more attention at home.

With little to no daycare options, the survey revealed an increase of independence among children, due to the fact they are having to be more creative in entertaining themselves. This in turn has had many moms seeing a new, or increased creative side in their children. They simply have more time to let those creative juices flow.

It goes without saying, without having to sit still in school for hours at a time, physical activity has spiked for children, and also for babies no longer in daycare. That fortunately leads to an improvement in gross motor skills. Not to mention, a chance for moms and dads to see some things like baby’s first steps, because they are home to witness it.

I think one of the most interesting and encouraging findings of Huggable’s survey, is that through this COVID-19 crisis, we may be building some pretty resilient young people. I remember when I wanted to go somewhere as a kid, but was told I couldn’t, or didn’t get my way…I pouted to say the least. Well, now there is so very much parents must say no to.

Entertainment is limited. Education quickly changed to a format that millions of children were not used to. Children were cut off from their friends. In many states, the public pool won’t even be open this summer. But they are doing it. They are making do with what has been handed to them . And that is what builds resilience. We may see some selfless, self reliant, and very strong generations emerge through all of this.

For now momma, just keep enjoying those first steps and extra finger painting works of art.

Even with older children, I have definitely seen an increase in creativity in my home….20200608_164756

I have also seen big brothers patiently entertain their younger sister. 😉

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